26 Dec Women – why do we always put ourselves last on the list?
*I make sure my kids eat several servings of fruit and vegetables a day. You can’t have a cookie until you eat that banana. No Xbox if you don’t have that brocoli. – But I can’t remember the last time I ate a vegetable. Not unless carrot cake counts.
* I am the Enforcer of Bedtime because it’s important for children to get a good night’s sleep. But if I go to bed at midnght, that counts as ‘early’ for me. If I get five hours of sleep a night, I count myself lucky. I am perpetually tired.
* I chase children outside “for fresh air and exercise” on a daily basis. Turn off that TV and go play/run around the block/weed the garden/jump on the trampoline… They need to move and groove to be healthy. But too many times, I will cancel my run/water walking/gym visit because I HAVE to cook dinner / supervise homework / clean the kitchen or even rearrange throw cushions on the sofa.A zillion other things take precedence over me getting ‘fresh air and exercise’. Most of those things involve house and family. Contrast this with the Hot Man. He can get up and go for an hour long run even though the house is a mess, there’s no food cooked and the laundry is piled up to the ceiling. Is it because he’s ‘lazy and doesn’t care’ about the housework? OR is it because, as he so frequently reminds me – ‘your health is more important than dirty dishes. The children and the house are fine. Forget all this and just GO FOR A RUN.‘
Which begs the question – why am I so good at taking care of my children, and so rotten at taking care of myself?
As women, we are often raised/taught to be the nurturers. The caregivers. The multi-tasking, multi-talented organizers of homes and families, not to mention workplaces, church groups and community organizations. On the list of priorities, we often place ourselves last. After partners, children, extended family and even pets, dishes, and an unscrubbed bathtub. Otherwise we feel guilty, like we are selfish creatures. The problem with this is that eventually, our bodies, minds and souls suffer. We are run-down, stressed out, overworked, out of breath, and what’s worse – we are seething with resentment as we brood upon all ‘all the sacrifices I’m making for this family/job/partner /church /goldfish’. When I’m exhausted and none of my clothes fit because I haven’t worked out in months – yes I hate myself. But I’m also angry at my children – for ‘making me’ fat in the first place with all the demands they place on my time. And annoyed with the Hot Man because he can go running oblivious to mess while I can’t. (and of course he’s the one who gave me all these kids in the first place…I used to rock with the body of a supermodel dammnit! Before these children destroyed it.) Yes, that’s right – it’s everyone else’s fault that I put them first on the list. Totally.
You want to know the crazy thing though? My husband and my children WANT me to exercise, sleep more and eat better. They WANT me to go watch a movie instead of cleaning out the pantry. Relax with a book instead of re-arranging their drawers. ‘Mum, did you go to the pool today? I think you should go now. Mum, what time did you go to sleep last night? Why don’t you go have a nap? We’ll take care of things…’ Why? They want me to bump myself further up on the Priorities List because when I am rested, energized, and fit – I am a happier, nicer woman. They love me and want me to be happy.
So why can’t I love myself enough to want the same thing?
Enough. This madness has got to stop. My gift to myself this Christmas is the gift of “selfishness”. Of love. I will love myself enough to start taking better care of me. More sleep. More ‘fresh air and exercise’. More balanced and regular meals.More down-time. I will re-arrange my list of priorities so that it better reflects how much my family loves me. And how much I need to love myself.
It starts now. The place is a mess with post-Xmas debris. Who knows what they will eat for dinner? But me? I’m going to have a nap. And when I wake up, I might go out and join Bella on the trampoline.
How about you? Where are you on YOUR list of priorities?